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Download Size
Iron Guest for Mac OS Classic 3.4 MB
Iron Guest for Mac OS X 3.6 MB
Iron Guest for Windows 4.6 MB
Deluxe sounds for Mac OS 5.3 MB
Deluxe sounds for Windows 5.5 MB


The Iron Guest is a board game that is also available as computer software. Each player commands a fleet of ships, the object being to dismast or sink all enemy ships by sucessfully firing upon or grappling them.


Setup   The game takes place on a hexagonal board, nine hexes in diameter, representing the open sea, arr. Each player starts with 3 three-masted ships. High roll plays first; play continues clockwise.

Shoals are placed randomly on the board. (Nine shoals is a good number for a nine-space-wide board.) Ships may not advance onto, nor fire through, shoaled spaces.

The first player then places each of his ships in a different space along a single edge of the board. The next player places his ships, and so on. A ship at rest always points toward a side of the space it occupies, not a corner.

Moving   During his turn, a player must advance each ship one space in the direction it is heading. Either before or after the advance (but not both), a player may change his ship's heading by 60 degrees (1/6 circle) clockwise or counterclockwise. This sequence, including firing and grappling (see below) is called a ship's play. A player may move his ships in any order, but must play them all during his turn.

A ship's entire play must be announced before dice are rolled for any firing or grappling. Legitimate errors discovered after the next player starts his turn are considered the fortune of war, and stand uncorrected.

If a ship can advance during the player's turn, it must do so, even if grappling (see) or sub-optimal plays for the player's other ships are a consequence. Any play or initial placement that would prevent any ship from advancing on the player's next turn (such as leaving a ship pointed directly into a corner of the board) is prohibited. If a ship cannot advance during a given turn, it must change heading so as to allow it to advance in the least possible number of plays.

     After initial ship placement, a die is rolled to decide which face of the board is upwind. The two headings most directly opposite that face are considered to be downwind. A ship heading downwind may advance two spaces instead of one. The ship may fire at any time during a double advance, but may not fire twice from the same side, nor may it change heading while advancing.  

Firing   This is the heart of the game, so pay ye attention: A ship's guns are considered to be fixed perpendicular to its heading, on both sides. As the ship advances and/or changes heading, its line of fire sweeps through several spaces. If, at any point during a ship's play, its line of fire includes the center of the space containing an opposing ship, it may fire upon that ship. (Note that the target's orientation doesn't matter, only its position.)

These diagrams illustrate how the broadside line of fire sweeps 60 degrees during a counterclockwise change in heading:

For simplicity, firing is illustrated from only the starboard (right) side, but a ship may fire from both sides during a single play if targets are in range. A ship cannot fire more than once from each side during a single play. More examples:

Results of firing are determined by rolling two dice. The range is taken at the moment when the closest broadside occurs, and is simply the minimum number of space boundaries one must traverse to reach the opposing ship:

range    required    odds of a hit
3 spaces   10 or higher   1 in 6
2 spaces   8 or higher   1 in 2.4
1 space   5 or higher   5 in 6 odds

A ship that is hit loses one mast. When the last mast is lost, if the dice roll was even, the ship is sunk and removed from the board; otherwise it is capsized, remaining dead in the water, playing no further role save as an obstacle to advancing, nor may it be grappled. It does not block shots.

If more than one ship is in the line of fire at the moment of firing, the closer ship blocks the line of fire and is the one considered to be fired upon, even if the player has announced otherwise. Friendly ships block shots and cannot be fired upon.

Grappling   If a player advances his ship onto the same space as an enemy ship, a grapple occurs, in which the ships are pulled together and the two crews engage in hand-to-hand combat. Players roll one die apiece simultaneously; each ship's remaining number of masts is added to the die roll. The higher total wins, re-rolling in case of a tie. The losing ship is scuttled and sunk (removed from the board). The winning ship advances into the contested space.

A ship may change heading and fire during the same play in which it grapples, but all such activity must cease once the center of the attacking ship passes the boundary of the contested space, no matter what the outcome of the grapple.

Winning   Play continues until all players but one have lost all ships. That player is the winner.


No Prisoners   Dismasted ships remain active and can be fired upon; another hit sinks the ship. They can also be grappled. All enemy ships must be sunk to win the battle. A dismasted ship cannot change heading or advance, but it may fire upon any enemy ship that ends its play within range on the dismasted ship's line of fire.

Variable Wind   After each player's turn, a die is rolled. 1 means the wind changes direction by 60 degrees clockwise; 6 means it changes counter-clockwise; 2-5 means no change in wind direction. (For a more fitful wind, the die roll indicates the absolute wind direction.)

Double Damage   If a ship rolls doubles when firing against an opponent, the damage is doubled. (Doubles have no effect on the total needed to score a hit.)

©1998-2002 Lars Jensen http://ljensen.com/ironguest